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National

GA: He was arrested for a sex act that’s no longer a crime. Years later, he remains convicted

[washingtonpost.com]

Charlton Green was 20 when he was arrested after having oral sex with a 16-year-old male in a Georgia hotel room.

He was convicted of a sex crime — not because the act was not consensual (it was), nor because the teen was not within the age of consent (in Georgia, it is 16). He was convicted because the incident happened in 1997, when oral and anal sex between consenting adults was prohibited under Georgia’s sodomy law. The conviction required him to register as a sex offender, a stigmatizing label that he carried for years.

Georgia’s Supreme Court invalidated the state’s sodomy law a year later, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against all such state laws in 2003, but Green’s legal status remains the same. Although his name was removed from the sex-offender registry in 2012, he remains convicted of sodomy and failure to register as a sex offender. Last week, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal-district court’s ruling that would’ve thrown out those convictions.

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From the article: ========== On Friday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, saying the federal court lacked authority to entertain a challenge to Green’s sodomy conviction. ========== So, all it’s saying is the federal court lacked the authority, despite the unconstitutionality. Someone is playing hard ball so that only a higher court can “entertain a challenge”. This is akin to California’s 17(b)(3) felony reduction. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but in the late 1950s, Banks had his sentence imposed and subjected to probation. Upon completion of probation, he wanted to reduce his conviction from felony to… Read more »

Question: if in Powell v. State of Georgia, 1998, the decision overturned the state’s sodomy law, and in 2003, sodomy laws were overturned nationwide (Lawrence v. Texas), why does the 2016 Official Code of Georgia still have a sodomy law ( https://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2016/title-16/chapter-6/section-16-6-2/ )?

The law remains on the books, but is unenforceable. It took South Carolina until 1998 and Alabama until 2000 to amend their states’ constitutions to remove language prohibiting miscegenation, despite the Supreme Court decision in Loving v Virginia 1967. Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, and probably a few others still have laws on the books that criminalize sodomy, despite the Supreme Court decision striking down such laws in Lawrence v Texas 2003. This is a common practice in conservative states where the legislature and executives wish to demonstrate their defiance of Supreme Court decisions that strike down their bigoted and hateful laws… Read more »

@R M:
I second what CR says. I also think the legislators 1) are too lazy to spend time cleaning up the books of old/unconstitutional laws; 2) are afraid to repeal it and have it become a campaign issue; 3) like to leave things on the books so someone less-informed complies without being legally required to do so.

That State statute or City ordinance staring you in the face is much stronger than some court ruling you may not know about or recall. It’s no different than the Halloween and residency laws ACSOL keeps having to sue over.

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